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'I'm a dermatologist and there are 7 things I always tell my patients.'

Mamamia logo Mamamia 13/05/2022 Erin Docherty
'I'm a dermatologist and there are 7 things I always tell my patients.' © Getty Images 'I'm a dermatologist and there are 7 things I always tell my patients.'

Why is it that we're always bugging innocent dermatologists to tell us what they do at work? Good question, friend. 

Look, we're nosy. And we love to nerd out when it comes to skincare. But for the most part, we also want to be here to help straighten out the complicated world that is taking care of your skin. 

Because we know how confusing it can be. (VERY). With so many different ingredients, devices and treatments out there, sometimes it's worth bringing it back to the experts and what they really recommend.

Watch: Here are seven ways to improve your skin while sleeping. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia.

Below, we asked Melbourne dermatologist Dr Cara McDonald to share the top things she always tells her patients. And guess what? She did! How good.

Off we go!

1. Actually wear sunscreen every single day.

You've heard it eleventy million times before, but we're going to say it again in case you were on the phone or something - sunscreen is *literally* the secret to better skin. 

Not only does it prevent the signs of skin ageing, but it also helps protect you from, y'know, CANCER.

"If you want good skin, wear your sunscreen every day, not just when you’re going to be outdoors for prolonged periods or in the sun," said Dr McDonald.

"Most signs of ageing that are caused by the sun, fine lines, wrinkles, pigmentation, and sagging, caused by a little bit of UV light every day over many years.

"This may even be through glass whilst being indoors. If you want to prevent these and reduce your risk of skin cancer, then the best approach is to wear a high protection SPF sunscreen every single day, even if you don’t expect to go outside."

Because no matter how overcast or cold it is outside, UV RAYS WILL STILL GET YA.

Plus, it's so easy to wear sunscreen every day - there are so many great new formulas out there for every skin type, so as if you wouldn't want to do it. It would be very silly not to.

2. Be consistent with skincare.

Hands up who finds themselves forever switching between skincare products because NOTHING works? Well, it may not be the products, boo. 

How awkward!

When it comes to skincare results, we all want them, like, yesterday. But the reality is, for most skincare products, you can't expect to see visible results for several weeks. 

"Consistency is the key. When it comes to skincare and anti-ageing ingredients, most people think that they need to swap and change their products around or like to follow the latest trends," said Dr McDonald.

"Some people think that if they are no longer seeing signs of irritation or skin reaction from their anti-ageing ingredients, then they must not be doing anything positive.

"Skincare slows down many of the ageing processes in our skin which result in damage and deterioration over time. You may see some early gains from skincare, but the real benefits are seen in its preventative action." 

So, yeah - play the long game when it comes to skincare.

"If you have used good skincare on one side of your face for five years and skipped the other side, then you would really, really notice the difference."

3. Follow your intuition. 

Get 👏 that 👏 spot 👏 checked.

If you are worried about a spot on your skin for some reason, then you should always, ALWAYS get it checked, says Dr McDonald.

"Obviously if you’re a very anxious person, then you may worry about everything and in this case, you need a good dermatologist who you trust to keep an eye on things for you.

"Very often though people have a sixth sense about a spot when it is not quite right and this case you should always get it checked out."

4. Spot treating acne is fairly useless. 

According to Dr McDonald, using all those fancy spot treatments on your acne is doing... nothing. We're sorry.

Why? Because most of these will treat what's already on the surface, when what you really want to do is prevent breakouts as a whole.

"Most treatment for acne is aimed at preventing the congestion in the pores and the secondary inflammation and infection that follows causing a pimple," explains Dr McDonald.

"Once the pimple has appeared the acne treatments aren’t especially effective at clearing it and may prolong the healing by causing too much irritation."  

Concentrating on consistently following the right skincare routine with targeted ingredients is a better way to prevent congestion and new pimples than treating them once they form.  

5. Every skin type needs to moisturise.

Don't need to moisturise because you have oily skin? HA! Good one. 

Hydrated skin is healthy skin, people. While there's lots of conflicting information out there, Dr McDonald ensures that no matter what your skin type, you should always moisturise.

"Acne prone, oily and congested skin still needs to be moisturised and protected," said Dr McDonald.

Yes, even you!

"Over-cleansing, exfoliation and harsh anti-acne ingredients can cause breakdown of the skin barrier which subsequently increases inflammation and breakouts."

So, moisturising and giving your skin a boost of hydration will only do good things for your skin. And that doesn't mean you always have to go in with a really thick cream - if your face is on the oily side, just opt for a gel or lotion to keep things in check.

6. Lifestyle factors and stress impact inflammatory skin conditions and the ageing process.

Having healthy skin is about more than just what you put on your face. The science behind skin ageing connects everything from stress, lifestyle and diet to the appearance of the skin - so it's very much a multi-faceted approach. 

Meaning? One trendy product isn't going to shoulder all the work.

"Good mental and physical health reveal themselves in the skin," said Dr McDonald. 

"Do your best to modify the factors you can with a healthy fresh diet full of antioxidants, good sleep and looking after your mental health to best of your ability."  

7. Many skin conditions can be controlled but not necessarily cured. 

Like the good little patient that you are, you've followed everything your dermatologist has said in order to treat your skin condition - right down to a tee. So, why has your psoriasis/acne/eczema returned? Well, it's a little more complicated than you might think - because some skin conditions won't just go away. Sigh.

"I often hear 'but why does it come back if I stop treatment?'. Unfortunately, that’s just the nature of many medical problems and diseases. Much like with high blood pressure, some conditions need ongoing treatment and will recur if the treatment is stopped."

Dr Cara McDonald is a highly trained Australian specialist dermatologist. She is a principal and medical director of Complete Skin Specialists Dermatology and holds a consultant position at St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne. She is a key opinion leader and educator in cosmetic dermatology and skincare; regularly speaking on injectables, cosmeceuticals and all things skin. 

Cara is passionate about helping people achieve healthy, glowing skin and loves breaking down the complex medical science of dermatology into practical, actionable advice for everyone.  

Feature Image: Instagram/@drcara_dermatologist.

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